The Deluxe Line Dance, McDonald's Attempt at an Arch Deluxe Dance Craze
In 1996, McDonald’s introduced a new line of sandwiches in an effort to capitalize on an untapped market: urbane, culinary sophisticates. The Arch Deluxe, “the burger with the grown-up taste™,” featured fancier ingredients (“bakery-style roll!”) and a beefed-up price tag. It was an immediate and infamous failure, and the entire line was discontinued shortly after its disastrous and expensive rollout.
McDonald’s' massive marketing campaign reportedly cost some $300 million. Commercials for the Arch Deluxe took a slightly unconventional track and featured children expressing outright disgust with the very product that was being advertised:
McDonald’s also launched a website for the Arch Deluxe, and it can still be accessed thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Back in 1996, the fact that you had a website was far more important than whatever you actually put on it, and the Deluxe Line’s barebones Internet presence reflects this. There’s a industrial-looking cross-section of the Arch Deluxe, with descriptions in comic sans (naturally):
Even more intriguing is what lies behind the animated GIF of a gyrating Ronald McDonald. Clicking this brings you to a step-by-step instructional guide for the “Deluxe Line Dance,” because what says “discerning gourmand” better than a dancing clown? According to the brief intro:
People across America are McSteppin' to the beat of the newest dance craze, the Deluxe Line Dance! Created by celebrity choreographer Debbie Allen, the new dance is fun and easy to learn. So put on your dancin' shoes and read on…
According to a Chicago Tribune article from the Arch Deluxe’s launch, McDonald’s intended for the Deluxe Line Dance to capitalize on the popularity of the Macarena, and they spared no expense: “McDonald's McShuttled employees from all around its Oak Brook headquarters campus for ‘Do the Deluxe’ lessons and a pep rally kicked off with a live performance by the Village People in full regalia.”
While you may not be able to purchase an Arch Deluxe anymore, you can still keep the spirit of this marketing disaster alive by doing the Deluxe Line Dance. Don’t skip step 7—“Step forward and form the ‘Golden Arches’ with your arms”—lest you end up looking like a juvenile fool.